I qualified as an English teacher at an inner London comprehensive school and was horrified by the low expectations that many of my students had for their futures and by the standards of behaviour I saw every day. This inspired me to get involved with the Conservative Party. I went on to work in arts education, business and politics. As a policy expert at Tesco, I helped create new apprenticeships and make healthier choices more easily available to customers. At the national tourist boards VisitBritain and VisitEngland I celebrated our national culture and heritage, and advised government on how to support the tourism industry. Now I lead the work of influential think tank Policy Exchange to communicate its policy ideas on issues ranging from tackling air pollution to strengthening Britain's place in the world.
Although I have lived much of my adult life in London, I grew up in a military family which moved around the world and the country following my father's job as an army officer. I won two scholarships to study at Rugby School and became the first woman in my family to go to university, studying English at Oxford. I am the granddaughter, daughter, niece and sister of armed forces personnel, the daughter of a nurse and the wife of a priest. The values of duty, service and patriotism I grew up with continue to inspire me today.
In 2015 I was proud to be the Conservative candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, securing the highest number of votes for the party there since 1992; in 2017 I held second place in the same constituency. I have also been a mayoral and local council candidate.
Outside politics, church is an important part of my life - I serve as a governor of an outstanding church primary school and my husband is an ordained deacon in the Church of England (as well as running his own business). I've sung in church choirs for over two decades and most of my Desert Island Discs would be choral music! I love to visit the theatre and cinema when I have time and cook for groups of friends and family. I swim and cycle when I can - and holidays usually involve a lot of swimming in bracing British waters off the West Coast of Scotland or visits to old churches and castles with my family. I always have a book in my bag and a large 'to read' pile at home courtesy of my local library.